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Scientists have discovered three new genes associated with testicular cancer, according to the results of a study published in Nature Genetics.[1]

Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in men ages 15 to 45. The incidence of testicular cancer has been increasing in many western countries. Between 1975 and 2002, the rate of testicular cancer doubled in the United States. The disease responds well to chemotherapy and is highly curable, though many survivors face fertility problems after treatment. Because the disease appears to have a strong genetic component, researchers continue to analyze genetic variants associated with the disease.

Researchers from the U.K. scanned gene maps of 979 men with testicular cancer and 4,947 control subjects. They found genetic variants in three genetic regions that were more common among the subjects with cancer. They then replicated these results by analyzing another 664 men with testicular cancer and 3,456 controls in order to confirm their findings.

The genes associated with testicular cancer are called TERT, DMRT1, and ATF7IP. The discovery of these three genes means that there are now six genetic variants associated with the development of testicular cancer. Identification of the genetic factors associated with the disease could help with earlier diagnosis as well as the development of better treatments for the disease.

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[1] Turnbull C, Rapley EA, Seal S, et al. Variants near DMRT1, TERT, and ATF7IP are associated with testicular germ cell cancer. Nature Genetics [early online publication]. June 13, 2010.